Food gifts from around the world

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by chrose, Dec 10, 2004.

  1. chrose


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    Professional Chef
    By Andrea Sachs

    Nov. 23, 2004
    For gifts that are authentic and go well with wine and a slide show, bring back foods and beverages indigenous to a particular country, state or island. When shopping for edible gifts, though, don't forget that they must clear U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Look for such permissible products as specialty chocolates and candies, wine and other bottled drinks, bread spreads, dried herbs and spices, and prepackaged meats and cheeses.

    Prices range from a couple of bucks for sundries you can find in grocery stores or markets (jams, spices, biscuits, cheeses) to double digits for wine, liquor and caviar, to hundreds of dollars for premium goodies, such as high-end Italian balsamic vinegar.

    Here are a dozen countries and a sampling of their foodstuffs that are made locally but can be consumed globally.


    Vegemite is the thick, yeasty, tar-colored bread spread that Americans don't get—in more ways than one. For less squeamish tastes, the country has 69 wine-growing regions, but the best-known vintages come from Hunter Valley in New South Wales, Barossa Valley in South Australia, Margaret River in Western Australia and Yarra Valley in Victoria. Pick up a bottle of Penfolds Grange, a robust shiraz or a smooth port. Part of the Foster's family, Victoria Bitter is an iconic Aussie beer.

    In the weird meat category, there's dried or jerkied emu, kangaroo and goanna (lizard—talk about tough meat). For condiments and spreads, look for cabernet paste, good with blue cheese and crackers (try the Maggie Beer brand); fig jam from Hunter Valley; and Verjuice, a stand-in for lemon juice or vinegar.


    Make an original caipirinha cocktail with cachaca, the sugar cane-distilled alcohol, plus some sugar and limes. Pao de Queijo, or cheese rolls, are as tasty from a mix as they are from the bakery; look for the Yoki brand in supermarkets. For gourmet coffee, stand-out blends include Bom Dia gourmet suave, Cafe Brasileiro, Cafe Pele and Cafe Damasco. Bring back a box of Bis, small chocolate wafers, or a travel-friendly version of the rain-forest cupuacu fruit, blended into jams and chocolate.


    Normandy is the hub of salted-butter caramels and alcohol-tinged apple cider, while Ardeche has the lock on chestnut cream, tasty on cake or straight out of the container.

    Skip the brie and Beaujolais, and sample some of France's regional finds. Among them: Maille mustard from the company's Dijon or Paris shop; Brittany's galettes de Pont-Aven, a buttery cookie; Drome's nougat de Montelimar, a confection made of nuts and lavender honey; and Perigord's foie gras and truffles—sold separately or indulgently mixed in one can.

    In Languedoc, cassoulet of Castelnaudary, the hearty meat-and-beans dish, is sold ready to transport. Normandy is the hub of salted-butter caramels and alcohol-tinged apple cider, while Ardeche has the lock on chestnut cream, tasty on cake or straight out of the container.


    Consider such popular Indian condiments as mango or lemon pickles, mango chutney or the ultimate curry chaser, papads or papadams, dried lentil chips spiked with Indian spices. Among sweets, often sold in elegant hand-crafted boxes, are sugary petha from Agra, West Bengal's milky cham cham and sandesh, and the carroty gajar ka halwa of northern India.

    Bakharwadi from Maharashtra, theple/thepla from Gujarat and bhujia from Rajasthan — are crunchy,delicious snacks.


    Pick up some premium Irish whiskey, such as Jameson's Middleton Very Rare. Pair it with smoked Irish wild salmon and Irish brown bread (look for the mix made by Odlums or Hogan's). Soda and potato breads are also unique to the Emerald Isle, and cheese-and-onion Tayto chips are considered the “Original Irish Crisp.” And for dessert: a box of Butlers chocolates from the classic Dublin chocolatier.


    Many “Made in Italy” products can be bought in U.S. supermarkets, but not all. Lavazza espresso is unique to this country of strong-coffee drinkers, as is Amaro Averna, a Sicilian after-dinner liqueur. Limoncello, squeezed from Sorrento lemons, comes from the Amalfi Coast, and tortellini from Bologna is world-renowned. For friends you really like, you can drop a couple hundred or more on vintage balsamic vinegar from Modena. Another indulgence: white truffles from the Piedmont region or black truffles from Umbria.

    One Italian tradition is dipping cantuccini biscuits from Siena into a glass of Vin Santo, the cherished wine from Tuscany's Chianti region. At Christmas time, panettone is chock full of dried fruits and dates, unlike the paltry American version.


    This country is big on seafood, noodles, sake and sweets—all of which you can bring home in some form or another. Take back snackable sea life, such as dried fish flakes, seasoned roasted nori or seaweed and shrimp-flavored chips. Also popular are prepackaged udon and soba noodles. Look for sakes by Takara Nigori and Takeno Tsuyu, and high-quality green teas encased in decorative metal containers. Sweet bean paste cakes are for dessert adventurers; for more traditional candies, there's Pocky's straw-shaped biscuits dipped in strawberry or chocolate, and the ultra-kitschy Hello Kitty and Pokemon candies.


    A stiff cocktail requires a shot of jenever (gin), bessen jenever (berry-flavored gin) or beerenburg, an herbal liqueur. Black licorice, called Dutch Drop, puts a salty twist on Twizzlers. Stroopwafels (caramel-filled wafers) are sold in pretty tins and go well with a hot beverage (locals place the cookie atop the steaming cup and let the tastes meld). Hagelslag and muisjes are crumbled onto bread and come in flavors such as chocolate and anise.

    Serve fries the Dutch way, with mayo or French fry sauce, sold in plastic bottles and tubes by such local brands as Calve and Remia. Before you jet off, stock up on Old Amsterdam cheese and matured black edam, sold at the airport.


    Be sure to purchase [caviar] at official stores and ask for a receipt, so that your pricey eggs aren't confiscated at customs.
    What else but vodka and caviar? For vodka, Russian Standard (Russky Standart) and Stolichnaya are the brands to buy; Stoli's range of flavors (lemon, strawberry, vanilla, etc.) will impress any top-shelf snob. Plus, they're cheaper over there. The best caviar comes from the Caspian Sea region, but you can find equally good osetra, beluga and sevruga in metropolitan areas. Be sure to purchase at official stores (only 250 grams per customer) and ask for a receipt, so that your pricey eggs aren't confiscated at customs.

    The country's premium chocolatier, A. Korkunov, packages its cocoa goodies in florid boxes and tins as stunning as a Faberge egg

    South Africa

    Australia has vegemite, South Africa has marmite—equally thick and brown and yeasty. Upgrade a Slim Jim habit with spicy strips of Biltong beef jerky or Droewors, dried herbed sausage sold in handy gift packs. Mrs. Ball's peach chutney is a timeless favorite; the chili chutney is avant-garde. Both, though, go with rooibos tea (Afrikaans for “red bush”), known for its health kick—and strong flavor. Or stock up on Cape Town wines (red, white or sparkling) and Beacon chocolates.


    Many hotels and public places ban durian, alias the “stinky fruit,” but when it's all tarted up, no noses will be the wiser. Try the fruit as a paste, chip or hard candy. Less odoriferous are tamarind fruit (dehydrated, chewy, wet slab snack, etc.); luk choop, a jellied bean and coconut dessert molded into fruit shapes; and pandanus leaf candy. Canned sticky rice puddings come in such flavors as mango, coconut, black rice and durian.

    Bet you didn't know Thailand had vineyards. The proof is in a bottle of Monsoon Valley (red, white or rosé). Nonalcoholic choices include bottled drinks made of chrysanthemum, grass jelly and pennywort leaves, and Krating Daeng, the Red Bull of Siam.


    The people of Turkey are big drinkers—of tea, coffee, wine and raki, an anise-flavored alcohol sipped with meze, or small platters of appetizers. You can find many flavors of tea as well as ground coffee at most outdoor markets. Pair your coffee—scented with a dash of cinnamon or cardamom from the thousands of spices sold at Istanbul's Spice Bazaar—with a cezve, a long-handled cylindrical pot. Raki is sold nationwide in markets and kiosks. For wines, look for vintages from Kavaklidere Winery, founded in 1929.

    All those groves in the Aegean region mean buckets of olives for martinis and nibbling, and gallons of olive oil for drizzling, saucing and sauteing. Turkey is also famous for its sweets, nuts and nut pastes. Check Istanbul's ritzy Bebek neighborhood for the best marzipan, and Bursa for chestnuts.

    © 2004 The Washington Post Company
  2. hele


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    Hi You! ;) Kon tai pan?
    Jouluherkkuja kylmasta pohjolasta = Christmas Delicacy´s from Freezing North Pole

    Here’s to you something very Finnish to eat and, above all, to drink during at the Christmastime.

    Glogi (o with 2 dots above it):

    1 cup blackcurrant juice
    ½ cup water
    ¼ cup sugar for taste, bee careful with sugar
    2 cinnamon sticks
    1 tablespoons cloves
    1 tablespoons ground ginger
    1 tablespoons peeled orange (or taste
    Ad all ingredients into mixed water blackcurrant juice. Let simmer stew 5 minutes
    straining mixture
    Ad vodka and wine into the mixture. Heat it, but do not simmer/boil.
    (Chief ingredients: 1 cup of cranberry vodka or more if you want, hahaa, 1 bottle of red wine)
    Server: hot. Shot class or eggnog muck. Put into the bottom of class/muck some raisins and almonds. Glogi should serve as hot-aperitif.

    Blueberry shot call “Finlandia” . Its a custom to play Finlandia; composed by Jean Sibelius, when serving shot(s)
    Finlandia Cranberry Vodka
    Vanilla ice crème (soft)
    Blueberry soup
    Sugar for taste
    Make blueberry soup. Sift it, after that; add some berries into the soup. Let it cool down.
    Cranberry vodka 4 cl
    Blueberry soup 4 cl
    On the top soft vanilla ice-cream 2cl
    Shot should drink at one swing IHANAA Should served as dessert !

    Vodka 4 cl
    Sugar 2 teaspoon
    Lime juice 1tablespoon
    Frozen cranberries

    To eat: Mati (dots on top of a) served with Rye Bred
    Mixed jointly
    Whitefish-roe (spawn) ½ cup
    Sour cream 1/3 cup
    1 tablespoon chopped onion + black pepper + dill + salt for taste

    Beetroot salad = Rosolli.

    1 Cooked, large beetroot
    1 “ “ carrot, 1 cooked large potato, 1 pickled cucumber, 1 small (acid) apple
    Mix ingredients well together
    Served with sour crème.